Interferon beta is effective for delaying progression to multiple sclerosis

Clinical question: 
How effective are immunomodulatory drugs (glatiramer acetate or recombinant interferon beta) in preventing conversion from clinically isolated syndromes (CIS) to clinically definite multiple sclerosis (CDMS)?
Bottom line: 
Compared to placebo, interferon beta is effective in preventing the conversion from CIS to CDMS (ie, prevention of a second attack) over 2 years of follow-up. There is no evidence delaying a second clinical or MRI detected attack has any effect on delaying disability outcomes.
Some limitations in the interpretation of the results are implied by analysis of the quality of the studies. In one trial no clear information about blinding of the investigators involved in treatment and evaluation is provided. In another trial the number of patients lost to follow-up during the second year is high (around 40%) due to early trial terminations. No trials tested the efficacy of glatiramer acetate.
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic, inflammatory, demyelinating disease of the central nervous system that most commonly affects women, with an onset typically between 20 and 40 years of age. It is the most common cause of neurological disability in young adults.
Review CD#: 
August, 2008
Authored by: 
Brian R McAvoy